Review

Definitely, Maybe Review

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Feb 14, 2008 | 12:25pm EST

If Will Hayes (Ryan Reynolds) didn’t have such a smart intuitive and inquisitive young daughter (Abigail Breslin) there might've been no Definitely Maybe. It is she who demands the unabridged story of who her mother is and how she met Will a story that dates all the way back to 1992 and involves a trio of women. It begins as a classic bolting-for-the-big-city tale when Will accepts a job on the Bill Clinton campaign in Manhattan leaving behind his college sweetheart Emily (Elizabeth Banks) in Madison Wisconsin. Slowly but surely Will falls for the city and two of its women in particular: Summer (Rachel Weisz) Emily’s scholarly college friend who is emotionally and romantically unavailable and thus irresistible to Will and April (Isla Fisher) an edgy apolitical copy girl who works with Will at the Clinton campaign office. So begins Will’s three-woman conundrum which isn’t necessarily solved by the time he finishes telling his daughter the story. Is there a more consistently surprising actor out there than Ryan Reynolds? Once known only for his sophomoric comedies that appealed to sophomoric viewers the actor has drastically changed his career for the better recently. He’s done horror (The Amityville Horror) and action (Smokin' Aces) in the past couple years and now his most surprising genre: romantic comedy. In Reynolds’ best performance to date he is natural charismatic (duh!) and clearly capable of shedding his sarcasm for the sake of a more grown-up even vulnerable character. Without a doubt he is leading-man material. As for the three actresses who play Reynolds’ love interests they can pretty much do no wrong. Fisher (Wedding Crashers) especially shines as multi-layered complicated NYC-girl-next-door April. Weisz meanwhile is a perfect fit (when is she not?) as the intellectual and slightly mischievous Summer and Banks (Slither) again shows why she’s pigeonholed in the girlfriend role--in a good way. In supporting roles  Kevin Kline and Derek Luke (Antwone Fisher) are hilarious and dead-on respectively. And finally  Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine) in a small but crucial role is infectiously energetic for such a tired  clichéd character. If Definitely Maybe does have a downfall or make a concession it falls within writer-director Adam Brooks’ (Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason Wimbledon) screenplay. While the dialogue is unconventionally sharp for a romantic comedy the story takes a hard turn towards predictability in the second half undoing the inventiveness displayed early on. And the all-too-convenient fact that Will changes the names of the three women when he’s telling his daughter the story so she--and we--can’t unlock the maternity mystery is the ultimate gimmick. But as a director Brooks who has been working primarily as a screenwriter for over two decades shows a lot of promise. The fact is despite ending disappointingly Definitely Maybe is a refreshing relatable antidote to most of today’s rom-coms. And even though that’s thanks partly to the strong performances strong performances are often thanks partly to a solid director like Brooks.

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